She sits pensively with about five 330ml bottles of cider in front of her.
It’s a new tavern in Mthatha at Ikhwezi township, one of the nicer ones.
In fact, it’s more a braai place than a tavern – they don’t sell alcohol, they are a butchery and provide space to drink while you wait for your meat.
I cannot remember how she had ended up alone there, an attractive twentysomething woman comfortable in her own space.
Five minutes before, she had been in a group of about eight people, guys and girls chatting freely.
I had decided from overhearing their conversation they were young doctors enjoying an Easter Sunday off in 2016.
But it was at this moment that the unfortunate situation ensued, starring a plump fellow in his mid-50s I’d say, talking to a friend.
He was saying how he had no respect for women who drink in public – a statement he repeated louder and louder until it became clear who he was addressing.
There must have been about 10 other men there, either eating or waiting or drinking, and just her.
Someone challenged the fellow, telling him to cut it out, because the lady was trying to enjoy herself like he was.
There was a suggestion that he should apologise, which he was never going to.
But his loud statements became mumbles to himself, with some Afrikaans expletives asserting how right he had been.
Until her friends arrived and she left.
The second scenario is more recent, in East London.
She’s a waitress, serving two gentlemen, one of whom is trying to get her phone details.
He liberally peppers her with the usual terms of endearment – “honey”, “sweetie”, complete with sexual innuendos.
With each one she was getting more and more agitated.
Then the second gentleman imperiously warns her not to be “proud”, pointing a finger at her.
There was an intervention again by another customer asking the gentlemen to leave the lady alone because parting with her number was not part of her job description.
The manager of the bar was called and had a few words with the offensive gentlemen, who settled their bill, seething, and soon departed.
Then there was yet another one, but I do not want to bore you.
That is, if you are a man.
Because I have no doubt any woman reading this will have remembered a similar situation where she was cornered, humiliated, sworn at by a man, just for being there.
Maybe he wanted her attention, her number, her address because he found her attractive.
This is a week in which all South African men are professing to be the good brother that is not part of the trash in the outrageous #MenAreTrash thread circulating on social media.
Every man wonders why he must now account for the murder and burning of the remains of the beautiful Karabo Mokoena, when killing a woman has never crossed his mind.
One such friend argues that it’s not a “well-thought-out” campaign. And this is probably what got me to write this.
The hashtag Men Are Trash is not a campaign.
I’m not aware that there was a meeting convened by a group of furious feminists.
I don’t know if it has a man-hating general secretary, a national chairperson, a spokesperson, a youth wing, sponsors and all that’s needed to start a campaign.
What happened is that a woman had gone missing and was found brutally murdered, burnt and buried to hide the crime.
On the same day, a young politician was handed 20 years for sjambokking a girlfriend to death.
A woman posted something in anger at young Karabo’s killing, using a hashtag that had been used to react to a similar despicable crime against women.
Then another one used it, and another and another, till it started trending.
It’s not a well-thought-out campaign because it’s a spontaneous demonstration of outrage. Because every South African woman has been in a situation similar to the ones described above, and maybe worse (consult our abuse and rape stats).
And women don’t Tweet or Facebook or WhatsApp about these, because they get shrugged off, and even some of their female friends will admonish them for placing themselves in situations where they’ll be harassed by men.
Every day women receive unsavoury Facebook inboxes, WhatsApps, of naked photos from guys.
Women bank tellers, supermarket cashiers, waitresses get called “sweetheart” or worse by a man who shouldn’t.
And every woman – black, coloured, Indian, white – experiences it.
We take note only when a woman is killed, raped or both, and we do our best to tell society that we are good men who look after their women.
#MenAreTrash is an expression of the daily terror and humiliation that women experience in taxis, buses, queues, on the streets.
It’s the old Xhosa folklore cry, “Zemk’inkomo magwalandini”, which generalised as early as the 19th century that all Xhosa men were cowards for allowing the British and the Boers to steal their land and cows.
#MenAreTrash isn’t saying every man has killed, raped or burnt a woman.
Although, as a man, you have to think what you might have done to a woman whose attention you sought if she ignored you.
Is it because we’ve all belittled our sisters that #MenAreTrash is making us boil inside?
I am the person who told the plump uncle in Mthatha to apologise to the young lady at the tavern.
I also asked for the manager at the bar in East London after calling to order the offensive men harassing the waitress.
I must report that a year since the braai-place confrontation, I was greeted by an older man who insisted on shaking my hand, and upon reflection, I realised he was the tipsy toppie who had harassed the lonesome woman.
He didn’t say much after that, so I can only imagine he’d never been happy about his behaviour that day.
This is how I change my ways … It is risky, as there’s no telling how guys will respond.
Because guys, if you must know, are trash.
- Jeff Moloi is a radio DJ. He writes in his personal capacity